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Chevrolet Malibu Shift Lock Release Guide
How to move the gear selector from Park to Neutral in a 9th generation 2016 to 2023 GM Chevy Malibu.

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2020 Malibu Gear Selector
Open Center Console
Lift Up Rear of Trim
This automotive maintenance tutorial was specifically written to assist owners of the ninth generation 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023 GM Chevrolet Malibu in releasing the automatic transmission's shift lock mechanism in order to change the gear selector from "P" (Park) to "N" (Neutral) so that the vehicle can be manually moved due to a dead 12V car battery, running out of gas, needing to be towed or some other mechanical or electrical problem.

The 9th generation Malibu was supposed to undergo a "facelift" in 2022 or 2023 and the refreshed vehicle may have continued being produced into the 2024 and 2025 model years but it will now apparently be discontinued after the 2023 model year.

Owners of other General Motors vehicles from Chevrolet, Buick, Cadillac, GMC and Holden such as the Impala, Corvette, Bolt, Sonic, Spark, Express, Trax, TrailBlazer, Equinox, Traverse, Blazer, Tahoe, Suburban, Colorado, Silverado, Cruze, Volt, Camaro, Encore, Envision, Enclave, Regal, LaCrosse, Canyon, Sierra, Terrain, Acadia, Yukon, Savana, XT4, XT5, XT6, Escalade, CT4, CT5, CT6 and Commodore may also find these DIY instructions to be helpful.

The tools needed to complete this procedure include a plastic pry bar tool and a small thin tool such as a screwdriver from a jeweler's screwdriver set or an Allen key.

For safety, I highly recommend that you engage the emergency / parking brake and place wheel chocks on both sides of the tires to help prevent the car from moving unexpectedly.

The first step is to open the storage compartment's cover to allow easier access to the rear edge of the gear selector's trim cover.

Gently and carefully pull up the rear edge of the silver gear selector's trim cover by inserting your fingers into the small storage pocket.


Plastic Pry Bar Tool
Release Retaining Clips
Trim Cover Released
Use the plastic pry bar tool to gently release the plastic and metal friction fasteners all along the edges of the trim cover.

Try to avoid using excessive force so that you don't crack or scratch the trim cover.

Continue releasing the retaining clips until you can pull the gear selector's trim cover straight up.

You do not need to fully remove the trim cover. If you do want to fully remove the cover, I imagine you could remove the gear shifter knob.

Round Hole - Top Rear
Small Thin Tool
Insert Tool Into Hole
For safety, make sure your foot is firmly pressed down on the brake pedal to help prevent the car from moving unexpectedly when you shift the gear selector to neutral.

Locate the small round hole on the top of the gear selector assembly at the rear edge.

To push the shift lock release button, you'll need a small tool such as an Allen key wrench, a screwdriver, a drill bit or a straightened wire hanger.

Insert the tool into the small hole.

Push down the white plastic button to release the shift lock mechanism.

Push Down White Button
Shift Lock Button Up
Shift Lock Button Down
Keep the button pushed down with your one hand.

With your other hand, push in the large button on the shift knob and move the gear selector stalk back from "Park" to "Neutral".

Move From "P" To "N"
Move Back To Park
Line Up Friction Fasteners
Release the emergency / parking brake but keep your foot on the brake pedal.

Have your assistants carefully move the disabled vehicle into the desired position.

Keep your foot over the brake pedal just in case you need to quickly stop the car.

Once you are done manually moving the car, shift the gear selector back into "Park".

Push Down Secure Trim
Push Down Front Edge
Trim Cover Secured
Line up the retaining clips on the underside of the gear selector's trim cover with their corresponding slots on the center console.

Carefully push down the trim cover to secure the retaining clips.

Make sure the trim cover is flush with the center console at every edge.

Please check out all of the 2016-2023 GM Chevrolet Malibu DIY Repair & Maintenance Guides.

If you found this guide to be helpful, please consider making a small donation by clicking on the "Donate" button located to the right of this paragraph. Thank you!
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